Thursday, May 08, 2008

Summer Reading

School is out for the summer and although some students will take summer courses for most it is an opportunity to earn money and gain work experience. But no matter what the summer holds for you it is good to have a plan of action when it comes to reading good books. In our visually oriented age many people do not read as much as they should. This is unfortunate because it has been said that 'reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.' I think this is true. Reading exposes us to the ideas of others which in turn stimulates our own thought and reflection. If we do not read it is easy to go in circles and fail to grow in our understanding of God, ourselves and the world around us. Even though reading has fallen upon hard times I believe Christians in general, and Christian leaders in particular, need to develop this discipline. And while I realize that some will read more than others, all of us need to be working our way through at least one book at a pace we can comfortably sustain.

Like exercise, the key to reading is consistency. Better to read a little each day then to read for hours one day and not read again for several weeks or months. Consistency depends on a plan, and a plan presupposes a realistic assessment of our interests, abilities, and areas of deficiency. One book that all Christians should be reading is the Bible. If we can only read one book, the Bible takes precedence over all else. There are no shortage of Bible reading plans that will take the faithful reader through the scriptures in a timely manner. All you have to do is type 'Bible reading plans' into google and you will have access to a variety workable options. As a pastor and teacher I am convinced that one of the greatest challenges we face is ignorance of the Bible, something which is unjustifiable in a day when the scriptures are so readily available in a variety of formats. But we must all understand that possession of a Bible is not enough. No matter what the version it will not do us any good if we do not read it!

In addition to the Bible, Christians should expose themselves to different types of biblical, theological, historical and apologetic works. It may be best to read a book from each category to insure a 'balanced diet.' In this regard, our first choice should be books written by Christians who are committed to the inspiration and authority of the Bible. While we need to know about the latest departures from historic Christianity, I fear that some people spend too much time reading those have left the narrow gospel road. We must not succumb to the prevalent academic tendency to 'push the limits' in order to appear 'edgy' or 'provocative' or 'clever.' Unmortified pride goes hand-in-hand with doctrinal error far more than people realize. In all of our studies our great desire should be to know the Lord as he has revealed himself in scriptures. That knowledge will humble us, inspire us, push us, and comfort us as we work, serve and rest in him. In fact, when you stop and think about it, those factors alone, should provide enough incentive to get us reading this summer.

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